Sunday, May 31, 2009

Dark Angel MUAVs a very real possibility?

That's what contributor Shaun Saunders was asking when he posted this article.

The main thrust of this paper was touting the advantages of the micro unmanned aerial vehicle.
The units are becoming much more prevalent now that there has been great strides in computer and AI technology.

The micro UAV has a distinct advantage over it's fixed wing brethren because they are much smaller in size and many now are not fixed wing aircraft but configured much like helicopters. They can fly in areas with large amounts of obstacles and are able to operate in areas where control signals are often blocked by the same obstacles.

The main idea is to put mobile monitoring equipment on site with a release and forget strategy. But as Shaun posits....are we seeing the first volley into eye in the sky crowd control - something akin to what we saw in Dark Angel?

Here is the video of the device in action:

Saturday, May 30, 2009

New Super Laser unveiled

Tim Sayell sends in this very interesting article from Yahoo News which reports that The National Ignition Facility has disclosed information describing a new "super laser". The new laser is capable of reaching temperatures and pressures equal to that said to exist in the cores of stars. This mean that for the first time in history, this was the first demonstration of fusion ignition in a laboratory setting.

What is really impressive is the physical makeup of the laser array. a house-sized sphere can focus 192 laser beams on a small point, generating temperatures and pressures that are capable of a fusion reaction triggered by the super laser hitting hydrogen atoms. There is ever indication that this reaction will produce more energy than was required to prompt "ignition," which had been the "holy grail" of fusion researchers for more than 50 years.

Read the complete article here

Friday, May 29, 2009

New storage research could mean data lifespan of 1 billion years!

By any stretch of the imagination, today's data densities are amazing! Today it is possible to store 10 to 100 gigabits of data per square inch on today's memory cards. That is a huge amount of data by any standard. Of course this technology comes at a price. Because of it's density today's data has an estimated life expectancy of only 10 to 30 years. What is even more cause for concern is the fact that even higher storage densities are needed for future electronic devices. That should frighten even the most stalwart of digital storage devotees.

But now researchers are reporting that they are working on a computer memory device that can store thousands of times more data than conventional silicon chips with an estimated lifetime of more than one billion years! This according to an article in ScienceDaily.

The researchers describe development of a memory device consisting of an iron nanoparticle enclosed in a hollow carbon nanotube. In the presence of electricity, the nanoparticle can be shuttled back and forth with great precision. This creates a programmable memory system that, like a silicon chip, can record digital information and play it back. Plus researchers showed that the device had a storage capacity as high as 1 terabyte per square inch (a trillion bits of information) and temperature-stability in excess of one billion years.

read more in the ScienceDaily article

Manmachine online comix check it out!

Now this is fun Royce Lee just sent me an email saying he really enjoys the blog and offered for our consideration his "comic" (I would call it a graphic novel) called Manmachine.

Royce describes it as:
  • It is an attempt at serious science fiction regarding a future in which corporatism has destroyed America.
Royce in a later correspondence wrote:
  • I really was into science fiction growing up in upstate New York, all because of the existence of a very small used bookstore that had tons and tons of used, tattered, pulp paperback editions of Philip K. Dick and JG Ballard. Remember in the 80s when these things were used as doorstops, and cost 80 cents! And then I stopped following science fiction after failing to find follow up writers. Really what was happening is that I lost my source of "underground" or "alternative" SF. This whole world of "alternative SF" is really fun and interesting to me.

I have had a chance to go through it once or twice and I like what I see. The artwork is minimalistic and the colors muted which give the overall atmosphere an edgy almost film noir look and feel. The story line is engaging enough to make you want to check out the next pane and frankly interested in seeing how it develops in further volumes.

It's worth a look.

Manmachine webpage

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Whedon Want Glau to Play in Dollhouse!

Summer Glau fan should take this news extremely well. Now that Summer is no longer kicking terminator ass, Dollhouse's Josh Whedon would like to get her on board with his pet project of late, Dollhouse.

But before you get all hot and sweaty thinking of all the Doll parts she would be good in, Whedon says he is not considering her for another part that would entail her being mind wiped and reprogrammed.....sounds familiar huh?

Not much news - but there is this article in IO9 by C. Anders that speculates about what parts would be interesting. Glau has said she would like to play a normal person but if you have been watching Dollhouse, you know there are damn few "normal" people.

Check out the IO9 article

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Look What You've Missed

If you haven't visited Abandoned Towers Magazine in a couple of weeks, look what you've missed!

During the month of May we've added a nice selection of good, online content.

In the audio section you'll find two poems that are a must. Both originally written by Lewis Carroll and performed by Timothy A. Sayell. They are The Panther and the Owl, and The Walrus and the Carpenter.

Next up, slide on over to the Science Fiction section and spend a few minutes reading through some of the great new selections. You'll find The Crystal Egg by H.G. Wells, Hypochondriac by Shaun A. Saunders, How to be an Evil Nazi Genius by Pat Hauldren, Old Crompton's Secret by Harl Viencent, A Prompt Delivery by Edward Rodosek, Into Space by Sterner St. Paul, and Evasion by Gustavo Bondoni.

In the General Fiction section we've added a chilling little tale called Local News written by Shaun A. Saunders. Joining it are Two Hundred Miles the Hard Way by Grady Yandell, Link with the Past by Arthur Newton, and Terminal Illness by Melanie Ress.

Several new piece of poetry are available for your enjoyment as well, among them a short selection by poet Joey Connelly entitled In The Burning Orchard and two pieces from Neila Mezynski: The Ballerina and The Birthday Party.

Eric S. Brown's series on The Flash concludes this month with part 4 and Oddcube provides a marvelous review of Attack of the Retro-clones.

Coming up in June we've got 2 new serials kicking off: The Fetid Horde, a Sword and Sorcery adventure written by A.J. Cooper and Gas Lantern Shadows by Malcolm Laughton as well as new episodes of our already in progress serials Clock Work, Knight Terrors, Scion of the Immortals, and Tales of Coromoor.

Of The Fetid Horde, the author says:
The story takes place in the mythical city of Baradon, a city which the captain of the Tower Guard, Salan, is dedicated to protect. But although the legends say Baradon is invincible and can never fall in siege, the city is about to face its gravest threat since its founding. Because something is approaching out of the desert sands, something powerful and evil.

And Malcolm has this to say about Gas Lantern Shadows:
Gas Lantern Shadows is a series that stems from the short story Vennels and Wynds which appeared in Abandoned Towers print magazine issue 2. In that story the protagonist is looking at a print of a photograph of old Glasgow and is drawn into the past. That story itself stems from my own past. I really did look at a real photo in real a pub, The Partick Tavern, and think: ‘I could just walk into that.’ The rest was imagination: the only time machine that so far exists.

The series takes up from where the protagonist is trapped back in the past: in an Edwardian Glasgow, where he is pursued by his implacable enemy. But Scotland’s urban heart proves very different from what he expects.

As for me? Well, I’m from Glasgow, Scotland. These days I work, most of my working time, for the MSP Bill Kidd (Member of the Scottish Parliament), but rest easy - there is nothing particularly political about Gas Lantern Shadows. I also write, no surprise there. My most recent publication, outside of Abandoned Towers is Glimpsed Between the Trees in Whispers of Wickedness issue 16 (the very final issue). My stories have also appeared in Quantum Muse and Wild Violet.

While you're wandering around the Abandoned Towers website, be sure to visit the video section (look for the things to do drop down menu) and watch Danny Birt's 2 new videos. Both were shot live at various conventions where Danny, the mild mannered author of the Laurian Pentology. spent far too much time without sleep singing hysterically funny filk songs.

Eleventh Hour & Reaper gone

Michael Hinman writing at Airlock Alpha notes that the networks continue to trash the SF and other assorted programming that made watching network television bearable.

He writes:
  • CBS has indeed pulled the plug on "Eleventh Hour" - Also cut was "Reaper" on The CW.
In a weird version of network musical chairs:
  • CBS also announced it was picking up "Medium," a show recently canceled by NBC. It will move to Fridays following "Ghost Whisperer."

This just in however:
Poster ReaperDMV takes issue with Airlock Alpha's Hinman - writing
  • Mr. Hinman is incorrect, Reaper is not gone, it's just not being picked up by the CW. Industry insiders confirm Hollywood Reporter's article that ABC Studios is actively trying to sell Reaper. Syndication is a very real possiblity right now, but EVERYONE is recommending writing your affiliates! Help out! All details here:
  • If successful, we're looking at a 22 episode season, possibly starting in October.

Excellent Hubble photos

Courtney sends in this link to stunning Hubble Space Telescope Images from

Just take a moment to scroll down through the pics and know just how provincial our little corner of the Milkyway seems!

Hubble Space Telescope Images

Hubble Space Telescope Images

Hubble Space Telescope Images
Gear | Pic
Amazing! "The Hubble Space Telescope was launched in April 1990. After the problems with its main mirror were fixed, it started sending beautifully detailed images of space back to earth. Here are some of the best Staring across interstellar space, the Cat's Eye Nebula lies three thousand light-years from Earth. "

Moore's Law to run out in 5 years?!

Here is an interesting article that Xnewsman sent me that he found in the New York Times. The basic premise by the author Saul Hansell was that Moore's Law will quite literally run out of space in as little as 5 years.

First, lets explain Moore's Law:
  • Moore’s Law — the observation by Gordon Moore, the co-founder of Intel, that the capacity of semiconductors doubles roughly every two years.
What does that mean in real world examples? Well the article gives an excellent example.
  • In 1990, SanDisk, shipped its first flash memory chip. Each chip stored four million bits of information. Today, the biggest chip SanDisk makes holds 64 billion bits.
In reality then, SanDisk doubled the capacity of it's chips slightly ahead of Mr. Moore's prediction, doubling 14 times in 19 years. But Eli Harari, the chief executive of SanDisk, is worried about how much further the boundary can be pushed. “We’re looking at a brick wall five years down the road,”

Every memory chip is made up of cells. The job of these cells is to hold electrons (memory remember is a recording and a recording is electrical and therefore containing electrons) Mr. Harari warns, “We are running out of electrons.”

No we are not eating up all the world's electrons, but there is an actual physical limit to how many electrons you can cram into each chip and therefor only a limited amount to spread between all the cells. When chips first came out, they had about a thousand electrons for each cell. With the increase in memory density each cell now is down to just a few hundred. At some point you can see where the cell density would be high enough to drop the electron count to 1 or below....and obviously you can't have a working circuit on zero electrons. The work around for this problem is quite ingenious. Older chips worked very much like computer memory, 1s and 0s or ons and offs but this method limited the size of the chip and at the time made them wildly expensive. Now the chip can actually count how many electrons are in a cell, and depending on the number it can write and read up to 16 states or for the computer geeks out there 4bits.

But at the end of the day, Mr. Harari said, it probably can double the capacity of its chips only two more times. Once the industry goes from its current 64-billion-bit chip to a 256-billion-bit chip (that’s 32 gigabytes), it will hit that brick wall.

There might be a bright spot on the horizon however. Many companies are now experimenting with stacked layers. This technology has great potential but at the present time has major drawback, like only being able to write one time.

Read complete NY Times article here

Saturday, May 23, 2009

What IS science fiction anyway?

Search on Google for science fiction and you'll get 81,000,000 hits.

The top 10 listings are the Wikipedia definition, the SF site best in science fiction and fantasy, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer's of America, Asimov's Science Fiction, Science Fiction Weekly, the Ultimate Science Fiction web guide, science fiction films, science fiction blog posts, and even a site called The Webiste at the end of the universe with a post entitled "Rehabilitating obscure science fiction writers".

Lots of information floating around on the web, but just what IS science fiction? says that Science Fiction is "a broad genre of fiction that often involves speculations based on current or future science or technology". After discussing places where science fiction can be found, such as books, games, and films, it also says "Science fiction is difficult to define, as it includes a wide range of subgenres and themes."

Indeed, science fiction can be very hard to define and people have gotten into shouting matches, online flame wars, and furious debates over whether some book or move is (or is not) classifiable as sci-fi.

It's not the "fiction" part of science fiction that's hard to define. Fiction is the opposite of fact. Fiction is something that is made up at least partly. When your child tells you they only took 1 cookie out of the package, but they actually took two cookies, your child is telling you fiction. Fiction is easy to spot and define. It's the science part that causes people fits.

Is it necessary to go into all the nuts and bolts of why the technology in a story works for it to be science fiction? Some people say yes, some no. Is it necessary to have technology in a story at all for it to be science fiction? Again, some will say yes and some no.

Perhaps the easiest way to define what science fiction is, is to define what it is not.

It is not wizards and witches casting spells. it is not knights in shining armor battling dragons for the hand of a fair princess. It is not...

But wait, maybe it IS those things after all. Take Star Wars for example. What was Obi Wan Kenobi? A Jedi Knight with heavy psionic powers who traveled from place to place via mechanical transportation (at least until he died). But he wore a robe. He cast illusions (these are not the droid's you're looking for) and he spoke about mystical energies (the forces). The evil Jedi Emperor even cast a lighting bolt spell when trying to kill Luke in one of the later movies.

Star Wars had an evil wizard (Darth Vader) a beautiful princess, a dashing rogue, a handsome knight in shining ... well in robes (luke) and even a dragon to slay (so what if it was round, named the Death Star, and breathed fire at an entire plane?). All the elements of a traditional fantasy story, but because the trappings are technology based (blasters instead of wands, land speeders instead of flying carpets) it earns the Science Fiction tag. Though to be fair to the hard core sci-fi enthusiasts who insist that science fiction must be about the technology itself, Star Wars can also be classified as Space Opera or Science Fantasy.

So what is Science Fiction? There seems no way to come up with a definitive explanation that will satisfy everyone, and perhaps that's not a bad thing after all.

Some recommended reading material for those of you wanting to delve deeper into the realms of Science Fiction:
The Revolving Boy by Gertrude Friedberg
The Alien Way by Gordon R. Dickenson
The X Factor by Andre Norton
R Is for Rocket by Ray Bradbury

And remember, there's a nice selection of short science fiction stories on Abandoned Towers magazine at

Until next time, happy landings!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Commentary: Why the original "Star Trek" still matters

The original Star Trek offered an Apollonian beacon of hope amid the darkness of '70s culture.

Its narrative ambition, its talky, theatrical density, its high-minded moral tone and its nerdy philosophizing, .... captures a great deal about what made "Star Trek" such a potent cultural force.

In his commentary for, Andrew O'Hehir speaks on why Star Trek was such an important part of my and obviously his, childhood. As odd as some people might find the statement, Star Trek had a great deal to do with how I formed early, and admittedly simplistic, an adolescent moral high ground.

Mr. O'Hehir's commentary on what made Star Trek relevant still rings true 40 years later and in it's day set a good counterpoint to the 70s counter culture. As he puts it:
  • Even if some of its flaws look more glaring 30-odd years later, I think the original "Star Trek" still has a passion and vitality that partly stem from its cheapness; the threadbare sets and effects created a coherent, suggestive atmosphere, and forced your attention onto the storytelling and the characters. It stands out, even after all this time, as something unique in television history.
read more of Andrew O'Hehir's commentary here

Thanks Nelson for the post

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Abandoned Towers #3 due out July first

CrystalWizard informs me that:
  • Issue Three of the print issue of the Abandoned Towers magazine goes live on July 1. The featured story in the newest issue is "The Ghost of Preston Manor" by S.J. Higbee, with other great stories, poetry and interviews from the likes of:
  • Timothy Sayell
  • Colin P. Davies
  • Bill Weldon's editorial "A different Path" makes a good case for the popularity of SF,fantasy, S&S and other sub-genre
  • and Abandoned Towers talks with poet Scott Green
Fantasy & S&S fans are going to have a field day with this issue. Poetry and Science Fiction fans will find material as well. There is even a coloring page! How can you loose!? lol

Abandoned Towers is published three times a year. March 1st July 1st & November 1st.

For more information on the print titles:

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Researchers find primate "missing link"

Scientists have discovered a primate fossil that they believe forms a crucial "missing link" between our own evolutionary branch of life and the rest of the animal kingdom. The 47 million year old primate fossil may well be to understanding early stages of primate evolution.

The skeleton is 95% complete and is so well preserved that it is possible to see individual hairs covering its' body and even the make-up of the animal's final meal. The fossil's amazing preservation means that the scientific team has managed to glean a huge amount of information from it. Researchers believe it comes from the time when the primate lineage, that diversified into monkeys, apes and ultimately humans, split from a separate group that went on to become lemurs and other less well known species.

The real excitement comes from the fact that this specimen is not on the lemur line because it lacks two key characteristics shared by lemurs – a grooming claw on her second toe and a fused set of teeth called a tooth comb. Also, a bone in her ankle called the talus is shaped like members of our branch of the primates. So the researchers believe she may be on our evolutionary line dating from just after the split with the lemurs.

Read More

Monday, May 18, 2009

Looking for Life in all the WRONG places....

Shaun sends in an article from NewScientist that suggests that we may be looking in all the WRONG places for life outside out own planet.

According to the article:
  • The universe's best real estate for life may be around stars a little less massive than the sun, called orange dwarfs - These stars live much longer than sun-like stars, and have safer habitable zone. Orange dwarfs, massing between 50 and 80% that of the sun, have only a little bit more flare activity than sun-like stars and far less than longer lived red dwarf stars. Lower flare activity means less radiation stress on any life bearing planets plus they would also provide a haven for life for a much longer time – roughly double the 10-billion-year lifetime of a sun-like star.
  • Moreover, they change very little in brightness compared to sun-like stars. Our own sun has brightened by about 30% since the solar system began, and will likely make Earth too hot for life in about 1 billion years, even though the sun will still have about 5 billion years of fuel left to burn.
  • Another factor in Orange dwarfs favor for possible life supporting star systems, is that they are about three to four times as abundant as sun-like stars...

Australian SETI-Astronomers Detect Unknown Signal

Instead of possible alien radio signals, Australian OSETI-Astronomers, looking for possible intelligent laser pulses from distant civilizations, have detected an unknown signal that has not been identified yet.

The logic for looking in this direction is based on real world circumstances. Over the decades since radio telescopes became popular, the radio spectrum has become increasingly more congested. To avoid interference, signals have become more focused and increasingly higher in frequencies. More of the information moved into the digital realm. As the digital data grew from kilobytes to gigabytes, light had to be utilized to carry the increased data density.

Using ourselves as a guide, a sufficiently advanced civilization is not likely to try to attract attention using tech that is for all intents the model T of communications. They are much more likely to use a data rich medium which leads us right back to light or Lasers.

Dr. Ragbir Bhathal head of the "OZ OSETI PROJECT" at the University of Western Sydney, using this idea, in the first week of December 2008 detected an unusual strong laser signal. They could not identify the burst and it has not re-occur. However as a proof of concept it has excited the team to continue.

Read More here

Thanks to Shaun A. Saunders for the post

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Blade Runner Voice Over: Director Frank Darabont hated it too!

Here is a short moment where director Frank Darabont says aloud what we all thought when we first were beat about the head and shoulders by the studio voice over project of the move Blade Runner.

Darabont The Shawshank Redemption and next year's Fahrenheit 451 adaptation

Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles Canceled

IO9 just posted the bad news on their blog:
Way to go FOX tv Hey, you know what that smell is? Yep that what you smell when your head is that far up your.....

Review: Minority Report - I finally sat through it!

Believe it or not, I just got around to watching Minority Report. For those of you that live in a cave like I do, Minority Report is a 2002 science fiction film directed by Steven Spielberg and loosely based on the short story "The Minority Report" by Philip K. Dick. It is set primarily in Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia in the year 2054, where "Precrime", a specialized police department, apprehends criminals based on foreknowledge provided by three psychics called "precogs". The cast includes Tom Cruise as Precrime officer John Anderton, Colin Farrell as Department of Justice agent Danny Witwer, Samantha Morton as the senior precog Agatha, and Max von Sydow as Lamar Burgess.

This movie was a commercial success and was a multi-award winning film, however awards like the Academy Award were not for science fiction but for sound editing... and that might be indicative of what I felt troubled me about the movie. Tom Cruise again shows he has no acting range. You could take his character here and drop it unchanged into Top Risky Mission if you catch my drift. Plus the fact that the movie is different enough from the story that I had trouble relating to the characters. It's set in a different place, a different agency and the main character John is unrecognizable (you get a clear impression from Dick on howAnderton should look and act ....which is not Cruise)

The movie is really just an action flick. Even in Blade Runner, Ford's character is allowed to question and suspect the status quo. That being said, the action and overall look of the film is really good. What is really telling is that the tech which I have to say is quaint. Now, before you call me on this, let me explain. I suspect that Spielberg used something akin to what I would call "the Star Trek " extrapolation. Look at tech existing now, and look at how Star Trek used it's tech....then add on 40 some odd years. What I mean is, look at how communications, computers, entertainment and transportation changed from when Star Trek was on to about now.....and you can see the changes and growth and also how really wrong Star Trek got some of it, because of the fundamental changes in technology. Spielberg did a good job of extrapolation of the technology but got the time frame almost laughably wrong. Now, given that movie was made in 2002 and almost none of the tech used was even close to being mainstream so I can see it being a dazzling 50 years into the future.... We are in seven short years, well familiar with touch screens and gesture control is already being done with no need for lights for reference points...Large flash cards are all but innocuous. Robots in law enforcement may not have reached the level of sophistication, but at their present level of adoption, I would suspect that level will be reached in 10 years or less.

Of course science fiction movies continue to offer real break away visions of transportation both mass and individually. We have not even come close to the vision that were offered in the sixties, so again I feel Spielberg may have missed by more than 50 years in jet-paced policed and vertical roads....50 or better 100 years too early, if ever.

So, in the end, what did I think? von Sydow, Farrell and Witwer all put in good performances, Cruise was predictable. The plot telegraphed itself, but as far as mindless entertainment much like "Total Recall" it certainly does a workman like job of it. I certainly am not sorry I waited so long....perfect late night movie on tv cause I can't sleep scenario.

Artificial Tissue - Androids anyone?

Australian and Korean researchers have developed a sponge-like material whose properties closely resemble those of biological soft tissues. It consists of DNA strands and carbon nanotubes.

At the present time, this material is being researched as an implant replacement for skin, tissue, tendons and other structures.

But if your mind went straight to android bodies like mine did, here is what the article had to say:
  • An additional advantage is the electrical conductivity of the new material, which can thus also be used in electrodes for mechanical actuators, energy storage, and sensors.
ummm do androids have to conform to the 3 laws?

Read complete article here

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Montauk Monster? WTF!!?

Anyone ever hear of this? Urban myth or not, its strange stuff. Tim who is a contributor / writer on the Abandoned Towers web site sent me this link. Not knowing if it was something we would run with or not. As a rule, I am not much into urban myths, but when bodies start washing up on shore, well that's when it gets strange.

According to the article this is not the first time one of these things has washed up:
  • Last year, the original Monster caused a huge stir across the Web. Nobody knew what it was, but reports indicated it was big, bloated, beaked, and rather gross-looking.
The Wikipedia says:
  • The "Montauk Monster" was an unidentified creature that allegedly washed ashore dead on a beach near the Montauk, New York business district in July 2008. The identity of the creature, and the veracity of stories surrounding it, has been the subject of unresolved controversy and speculation.
Some speculation as to what type of an animal it is range from:
  • Turtle without its shell
  • Racoon
  • Dog
  • Sheep
  • or a water rat from Australia
Read the article, check the wiki its strange...thats for sure
Thanks Tim!

Voodoo Medicine?

When Shaun Saunders posted this to me I thought he had finally cracked. But then I started reading it and the editorial in NewScientist makes a strong case for the mind controlling our health. Not just the placebo effect but shockingly deadly maladies litterally voodooed away.

The article is interesting enough on its own merits, however, knowing Shaun as we do, one can suspect that he suspect that there is another layer beneath the smoke and mirrors. What Saunders point out is:
  • What is interesting though, is that it seems that every 2nd or 3rd advert on tv is about bowel, prostate, lung, skin or other cancer, or heart disease and so on...and on....
  • Like my story 'H.A.D' - BMU show 113 - suggested - it's all 'down hill after age two...':
  • The science behind this is not new - it's generally referred to the branch of psyc known as 'psychoneuroimunology'. Of course, ... as the article points out, it may not work for everyone - you must *believe* it, but then the same case might be made for a professional sports person needing to believe that they can achieve feats that no one else could.

H.A.D. as Shaun alludes to is a story that takes place in the near future. In this future it is the norm to seek-out medical services and be treated for all sorts of maladies beyond anything we would consider normal. To not seek out and treat these ailments is now thought to be a dangerous mental aberration, with all the associated hysterics. The very thing that sets this kind of behavior could very well be traced to TV ads promoting all sorts of cures and treatments for diseases we didn't even know about before the adverts.

This is a prime example of how science fiction takes a trend and the authors weave a projection from the smallest of hints and information.

Deathstar pwns Enterprise!

Fanboy Mike Horn has proven that he has a gift not only for CGI, but also for sci-fi satire.
Here he has fun at the Enterprise's expense. Major pwnage!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Burning Skies - book trailer

Wow, now here is a really inventive way to pump interest in a book. Boring reviews? Nope! Something very akin to a movie trailer but for a book! Confused? According to IO9, here are some of the details
  • Former video-game programmer David J. Williams' novel, The Burning Skies, comes out soon, and his Homeworld collaborator Paul Ruskay crafted this haunting book trailers.
Check out the haunting short video

READ THE FUTURE - 5.19.09 teaser

Oh and here is some more material at the Myspace page:

The Day the Universe Froze

About 11.5 billion years ago, when the universe was a quarter of the size it is today, it did freeze. Solid as a stone. Image at right  shows such a cosmic ice cream bar as visualized by Chandra/NASA.

This according to researchers exploring a new model for dark energy. The model, published online May 6 in the journal Physical Review D, was developed by Research Associate Sourish Dutta and Professor of Physics Robert Scherrer at Vanderbilt University, working with Professor of Physics Stephen Hsu and graduate student David Reeb at the University of Oregon.

“One of the things that is very unsatisfying about many of the existing explanations for dark energy is that they are difficult to test,” says Scherrer, “We designed a model that can interact with normal matter and so has observable consequences."

The model proposes that space itself is the source of the repulsive energy that is pushing the universe apart, and attributes dark energy to an entirely new field dubbed quintessence.

Quintessence is comparable to other basic fields like gravity and electromagnetism, but has some unique properties. For one thing, it is the same strength throughout the universe. Another important feature is that it acts like an antigravity agent, causing objects to move away from each other instead of pulling them together like gravity.

Image: Chandra/NASA

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

New Book Release!

The Diminuendo Press imprint of Cyberwizard Productions has released a brand new collection of marvelous poetry. Written by John Rice, a poet from Canada, the enchanting collection is a must have for anyone that enjoys poetry. It retails for 8 dollars, but is worth far more. You can pick up your copy now by visiting the Cyberwizard Productions website at
clicking on the Diminumendo Press button on the side bar, and then clicking on the cover of the book.

As a special treat, we offer you a couple of poems from the collection:

Four Horsemen

High above me, in a cloud filled sky,
Lit dimly by the veiled moon,
Four horsemen gather on death head steeds,
Their faces wear the mask of doom,
Lightning flashes from stone cold eyes,
Thunder echo’s loudly as they ride.

I tremble when I see them,
Though they have passed my way before,
Their names are burned deep with in my soul,
They are greed, pestilence, death and war,
They bring with them the apocalypse,
Their swords drip red with blood.

They laugh, when they see me cower,
Then with out paying further heed,
They drive sharp steel spurs in to bony flanks,
In voices that would cause the dead to quake,
Call loudly to their steeds.

I tremble with fear as I watch them,
Ride through stormy skies once more,
In dread, unable to breathe, I wonder,
What lands do they intend to plunder,
These horsemen of the apocalypse,
Greed, pestilence, death and war
It is we who in our pride have called them,
To ride through our lands once more,
We prefer the sword to the olive branch,
So now the deadly horsemen once more ride,
Greed, pestilence, death and war,

Children Of The Emerald Isle
They chose Diaspora instead of hunger,
Freedom instead of serfdom,
A strange land over a tyrant’s power
They sailed away from beloved homeland,
Proudly bearing their Irish names,
O’Neil, O’Malley, Dougal,
Macauley, Wallace and Keen,
From humble, straw thatched cottages,
In Kerry, Derry and Dublin,
Galway, Limrick and Cork,
To villages in Quebec
To the streets of Muddy York,
They came to till the farmlands,
To plant their roots firm and deep,
They came to escape a famine,
A king’s oppressive hand,
Looking for hope and freedom,
In a strange and distant land,
At first they were unwanted,
But they soon won hearts with warm smile,
Now firmly a part of this country,
Are the proud children of the Emerald Isle,

Sunday, May 10, 2009

ABC picks up 'Flash Forward'

Imagine in the very near future, everyone passes out for exactly the same lenght of time - 2 minutes and 17 seconds. To make matters worse, everyone has mysterious visions of six months into the future. Well this is the basis of Robert J. Sawyer's Flash Forward. More good news is - ABC has placed an initial order for 13 episodes of the TV series!

And the good news keep rolling in! Robert will be serving as consultant on all episodes and will be writing one of the first - season episodes himself.

Here are some other articles on the new series

 * The Hollywood Reporter:

* Variety:

* TV Guide:

Get Smart's Cone of Silence now a reality?

Shaun Saunders points out an article in NewScientist. Do you remember Get Smart? Well recall that big plastic dome that came down whenever Max wanted to confide in the chief. What made it comical is that it never seemed to work.

Well that is a thing of the past it would seem. Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are being patented!

From the article:
  • Instead of plastic domes, they use a sensor network to work out where potential eavesdroppers are, and speakers to generate a subtle masking sound at just the right level.
To make the system work:
  • The walls of the room must be peppered with light-switch-sized units that include a microphone, a speaker, an infrared location sensor and networking circuitry connected to a server.
The idea is to have the system beam white noise and randomized office noise at the potential eavesdropper.

Honest! Read more here

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Hello from a new editor

Greetings and hallucinations! Paul's asked me to come on board as a new editor and so... here I am.

For those who don't know me, I'm the managing editor of Abandoned Towers Magazine which you can find at

There's a wealth of science fiction floating around these days, so it surprises me to hear people occasionally claim that sci-fi is dead. Or dying. The problem seems to be that technology is almost moving faster than authors can keep up with. Back in the 1930's, an author could dream up fantastic inventions, and have plenty of time to write a few stories about them and get those stories published without having to worry about whether his inventions would be on the front page news in a week or two.

Now, however, the situation's changed and what is the stuff of imaginative dreams one day is for sale as Wallmart three weeks later or so it seems to me. This doesn't mean that sci-fi is dead, but it does make it challenging to write. After all, when your target audience can walk into their living room and pick up the fantastic gadget you thought you had dreamed up, they're going to know if it's functioning correctly in your story or not. And if it's not, they're going to consider you a hack writer... someone who doesn't research, sloppy and unprofessional.

But fortunately not every sci-fi author has thrown his hands up in despair and starting writing reality tv shows or travel blogs. There are still stalwart souls daring to dream about future-tech and spin fanciful tales about it, though in a number of cases they're drifting into the sci-fi subgenres and avoiding pure, had science. One of the more interesting sci-fi sub-genres is steampunk. If you aren't familiar with what that is, think Wild Wild West. Here are a couple of links that you might find interesting:

For a nice selection of science fiction, wander over to Abandoned Towers, enter the website, and click on the button labeled Science Fiction.

Special deal for Beam Me Up listeners

I can't remember if I have noted this or not, but Shaun has taken it upon himself to offer a steep discount on his newest collection of short stories Navigating in the New World. If you're interested in the non dead tree version you can download this book now for $8.99. Here is the address for the download and it's only available for download through

My review of the collection is available on the blog here, but in short is is a fast moving short story collection that will please even the most discriminating palettes.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Asteroid Couldn't Have Killed The Dinosaurs?!

IO9 in it's never ending quest to shake up everything we thought we knew, has posted an extremely compelling article about Princeton geo-scientist Gerta Keller. Keller's research has new evidence to support her alternative theory that volcanoes, not meteorites, wiped out the dinosaurs.

Now I know, this isn't strictly speaking new stuff here, but what makes this article very interesting is that it is backed up with some serious research. Keller's research shows that far from wiping out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, not a single species went extinct after the Yucatan event. In fact there may have been as much as 300,000 years between the impact and the extintion event.

From the article:
  • Keller suggests that the massive volcanic eruptions at the Deccan Traps in India may be responsible for the extinction, releasing massive amounts of dust and gases that could have blocked sunlight, altered climate and caused acid rain.
read complete article here

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

How an Intern Stole NASA's Moon Rocks

Carmel Hagen writing in Gizmodo tell the tale of how in:
  • In 2002, rogue NASA interns stole millions of dollars in moon rocks. This is the untold story of how they did it.
This is one of those stories that when they just never really pay close enough attention and then later you find that things were never quite what you thought and stranger than fiction.

Read this fascinating and strange account of a NASA intern and a very odd Excel spread sheet here

Fringe & Medium renewed....Chuck?

Mark Wilson over at the Sci-fi Fantasy blog on is posting that the seriously strange Fringe, on Fox, has been renewed for sure for another season. NBC, following in the heels of this news has said that Medium was renewed for a 6th season, though the episode order is not for a full season, which has give some pundits pause. (I have been catching some of the final shows in the 5th and Medium has taken a very Fringe like turn as of late) Chuck however is still on the bubble. As Mark writes:
  • Word on Chuck is not official, but it is now seen by industry insiders and pundits as more likely to be renewed for a third season – though, as with Medium, it may or may not be a full season.
It may be a while yet before we know conclusively just what the heck is going on!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Spin - a very strange short film

Crystalwizard or Abandoned Towers fame turned me onto Spin - an odd, short film that concerns a very strange DJ who, in spinning his records, spins time as well. His nemesis is cause and effect. As he changes one thing, another pops up. A very entertaining look into an alternate reality not terribly far from our own.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Fox renews Fringe for season 2

Fringe fans! Time to get happy! Michael Hinman at Airlock Alpha reports that Fox has indeed renewed Fringe for a second season. Fringe has continued to pull good numbers since Fox placed it as lead-in to its' Tuesday night lineup.

Word still hasn't officially come down yet for Fox's other genre related series, Sarah Connors Chronicles and Dollhouse.

More info can be had at Airlock Alpha

NASA abandons moonbase plans

Yep, you heard that only is it unlikely that the next human to step on the moon will be a NASA alumni but the first manned outpost on our closest neighbor won't be cutesy of NASA either.

According to IO9:
  • NASA is reconsidering plans to build an outpost on the moon, due to budget.
  • NASA's acting administrator Chris Scolese said at a recent meeting: an outpost [on the Moon] is really going to be dependent on the studies that we're going to be doing.
These "studies" it would appear are examining putting humans on Mars or asteroids, which sounds exciting, but I seem to recall an earlier comment on starting with the Moon and then on to Mars - NASA officials stated that before we could move on to Mars or Asteroids, a Moon base had to be accomplished first to test the viability of the technology. Hummm, if one doesn't happen, just how likely is it that the other will naturally follow on?

Sunday, May 03, 2009

AntipodeanSF - Issue 131 online!

Editor Ion of AntipodeanSF writes to tell us that issue 131 is online and available. He writes:
  • This month's magazine features ten fantastic pieces of flash SF fiction from around the world.
  • This month's stories are:
  • The Tragedy of La Luna By Kieran Salsone
  • "Do you remember when it happened? Most people have seen the horrifying and
  • often catastrophically beautiful images of La Luna plummeting towards mother Earth."

  • Three Strikes By Tom Williams
  • "Strike 1! It all started when the nation's commercial airline pilots went on strike to secure a pay rise."

  • The Visit By David Scholes
  • "The energy configuration paused in its long journey. A small, blue-green world caught
  • its attention."

  • Time On Our Side By Mark Farrugia
  • "I was but ten years of age when the statues first appeared. They sprung up overnight in t
  • he big cities — LA, London, Bangkok, and Dubai."

  • A Family That Plays Together By Shaun A. Saunders
  • "Hello again, Mrs Kay," said Karen, confused at finding her best-friend Sally's mother
  • at home instead of pulling another seventy-two hour shift at the local FabCola
  • Family Restaurant. "What are you doing here?"

  • Interrogation 8 By Jamie Richter
  • "Interrogation #8 Prisoner: Captain James Trummel. Interrogator: Mk-IV
  • Android #KDM-32813-3."

  • Cliché By Scott Wilson
  • "I am a Computerised Living Individual Clone Helping Environment, better known as
  • a CLICHE. Yeah, I know, I know — not very original in any sense of the word — but t
  • hat's what our maker chose to call us."

  • Carousel of Death By Jan Napier
  • "An anorexic spruiker, wrapped in enshrouding cloak and hood, croaks, "Around the
  • painted ponies go, where will you be when next they slow?" He splits his bony features in a
  • ghastly rictus."

  • Bodysurfing By Simon Petrie
  • "Uh, no. Not this one. It doesn't feel right. Of course I realise it'll feel different, I'm not
  • an idiot. Different is what I'm after. But the movement feels too ... restricted. Not
  • enough flexibility in the limbs. Who else do you have?"

  • Circadian Rhythms By Mika F. Cella
  • I leaned out of my thirty-third-floor window and breathed out a big smoky sigh as I
  • devoured yet another cigarette and drained a bottle of moonshine. Humorously, we all like
  • to call it that up here.
You can find AntipodeanSF at: <>

Video of Steve Eves Saturn V model launch

Remember the earlier article about Steve Eves who built and planed to launch the world's largest model rockt? Well Steve's model of the Saturn V did in fact have a successful launch and here is the video!

Friday, May 01, 2009

New this May at Abandoned Towers

Crystalwizard sent me a note to let us know that May has brought all kinds of new goodies to Abandoned Towers.

To start off, reviewer Oddcube takes a run at RPG gaming - old style. you know, the kind with dice, paper, pencils etc....

The final part of Eric S. Brown's series, The History of Speed.

New items include:
  • Call of the Northern Seas retold by Norman A. Rubin in the General Fiction section
  • The Realm of the Big Sandbox by Michael H. Hanson in Kid Stuff
  • A Burning Question by A.K. Sykora in the General Fiction section
  • New poetry by George Moore
  • New poetry by Nora Weston
  • Several new stories from Doug Hilton in the sci-fi, the fantasy, and the Western's catagories.
And starting May 5th, Towers has a new serial starting up. Clock Work by Erin Bassett. A mystery that will have you biting your fingernails and sitting on the edge of your seat. What is that mysterious thing Ester keeps seeing? Who is Holon and why is he important?